There's No Place Like Home

| March 21, 2001

There's No Place Like Home

We are a restless and rootless society, says Kirkpatrick Sale in The Ecologist, people with migrant souls who don't recognize the comforts of home. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States where one-fifth of the population changes residence each year. And, the more we move, according to Sale, the more havoc we wreak upon the land.

'Mobility, upward and outward,' he writes, 'has always been a most treasured characteristic....Surely, that is why this nation, and the industrialized system it has spawned, has so little regard for the natural world. We don't live on any one part of the land long enough to know very much about it, and it enters our consciousness mostly only when we wish to exploit it.'

As a way out of this environmental crisis, Sale proposes 'bioregionalism,' a political philosophy where regions--and the way we live in these regions--are defined by nature, not by legislature.

Bioregionalism, writes Sale, 'is a way of living and thinking which views the world in terms of the actual contours and lifeforms of the Earth - measured by the distinct flora and fauna, the climate and soils, the topology and hydrology, and how all these work together.'

'It pays respect to these natural ecosystems by seeing them as coherent and empowered social and political entities as well, necessarily living by ecological principles of sustainability dictated by the limits of the land itself.'

In delineating his plan, Sale acknowledges that at times it sounds a bit too utopian, but what keeps it from being 'cloudcuckoo land,' he says, 'is the fact that it is based not only on the eternal laws and systems of nature, but on the ways of tribal and ancient peoples who knew and followed those laws and systems.'
--Anjula Razdan
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